Groups vie for grants
The Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) heard presentations from five groups about their grant applications at the Washington Free Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The groups had 10 minutes to present their application that was followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session from WCRF board members.
The five groups that presented included: the Mid-Prairie Community School District, Mike Zahs for the Humanities Iowa group, Kirkwood Community Foundation, the Riverside VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), and Friends of Lake Darling.
Mid-Prairie Community School District is asking for a $2.5 million for a new auditorium at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman.
Superintendent Mark Schneider said the district already has some funds raised for the $7-million auditorium. A private donor will give $1million. Another $1 million would come the sales tax revenues. The final portion of the project would have to be approved by school district voters in a bond referendum.
“We’re hoping to use the grant from the riverboat foundation No. 1 so we don’t lose the million dollar gift,” Schneider said. “Two, to leverage our public. Obviously, we have to fund the rest of it — $2.5 million through a bond issue and we want to make it attractive to our voters.”
David Kunz, band teacher at Mid-Prairie High School, said the high school cafeteria serves as the auditorium with a small stage. He said there isn’t enough room for the audience in the cafeteria and that folding chairs have to be set up each time before a performance. This poses problems when lunch is being served.
Vocal music teacher Collette McClellan told the WCRF board members that the auditorium wouldn’t just be used by the high school.
“We want to stress that this would not be just a fine arts facility but would be a community facility as well,” she said. “We would also like to show students what real theater experience is and with our current facility we can’t do that.”
Zahs began his presentation by showing the WCRF board some clips from the Frank and Indiana Brinton film collection that he privately owns now. He is asking for a $51,000 grant for the $59,786 project of restoring the films.
“They all pre-date 1918,” Zahs said. “They were originally shown in Washington County by Frank and Indiana Britton.”
Zahs said he has had this collection for 32 years. This year he contacted the University of Iowa special collections library and Humanities Iowa, who brought in a silent films expert from Paris, France, to view the collection.
He is now working with those groups to begin the restoration process.
“This grant application is to just start this process,” Zahs said. “It is to stabilize and preserve the films. Ninety-nine percent of the films this age are gone.”
Once, the films are digitalized and restored premieres would be hosted in Washington County, Zahs said. The digitalized collection would be owned by the Iowa Humanities group and is still considering where the originals would go but would like to keep them in Washington County.
Tera Pickens of Kirkwood Community Foundation, said the college is asking for a grant of $750,000 over five years to help pay for the equipment in the career academy classroom. The total cost of the equipment for the classroom is estimated to be around $900,000.
A new regional center is under construction in Washington County. It is scheduled to open next fall and will host some concurrent classes with area high school students. There will also be career academy classes taught at the location.
WCRF board member Ted Drain asked if the career academy classes would take over the industrial technology classes that were taught to high school students’ years ago.
Some of the equipment needed for the classroom includes patient-treatment dummies for students studying for careers in health care and auto technology equipment to help with students wanting to be auto mechanics.
Kirkwood Foundation staff member Eric Weiler told the board, “We want our students to train on the same equipment that they’re going to see out in the work force and this equipment is very expensive.”
If Kirkwood doesn’t receive the grant the college will still find a way to buy the equipment but it would be a stretch because the college is building two other regional centers besides the one in Washington County, Weiler said.
“We’re looking for all public and private funding sources so they can collaborate and help us out so we can do more in the community,” he said.
The next presenter was Steve Miller, quartermaster of the Riverside Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The VFW is asking for $105,000 from the WCRF to construct a flood protection barrier around the building. The total cost of the project is estimated at $115,000.
The VFW building suffered from floodwaters in April, Miller said. Members considered three different options. One was to move, the second one was to elevate the building about four feet or to build a berm around the building that include sump pumps and two gates that would be closed when floodwaters threatened the VFW.
After discussing with the 111 members their options, the group decided to go with the third option, Miller said. They contacted a local businessman who had experience with building flood protection barriers and spoke to an engineer and are confident the flood berm would protect the building from another flood, he said.
Don Kline of Friends of Lake Darling gave the final presentation. The group is asking for $298,500 from the WCRF to build three four-season two-bedroom cabins in Lake Darling State Park. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has already committed $152,725 to the project, and the total cost is projected at $451,225, Kline said.
If awarded, the cabins may be ready by July 4, 2014, Kline said. A benefit of having these cabins would be the boost to the local economy and drawing people to outdoors more, Kline said.
The cabins would have to comply the ADA guidelines and utilities would have to be installed in the area for the cabins, Kline said. The cabins would include a full kitchen and sleep up to eight people.
The presentations lasted about two hours but all of the board members said they were happy to hear more from the five grant applications they requested. The fall grant awards will be given out on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Casino.